TORONTO – Amanda Cordner says a move by organizers at the ACTRA Awards to introduce new gender non-conforming categories is a step in the right direction, but that the divisions of gender still exist across the acting awards.
Cordner, a star of CBC’s comedy “Sort of,” was among those nominated in the renamed “outstanding performance – gender non-conforming or female” category, one of four retitled awards for acting and voice work.
But the actor says those new categories remain split between male and female performances.
ACTRA Toronto, the largest branch of the Canadian performers’ union, made the changes this year as part of an effort to be more inclusive.
Organizers say gender non-conforming performers were given the option to submit based on either the gender of their character or how they personally identify.
However, Cordner said they weren’t aware they could choose which category to submit to and called the renamed categories “confusing.”
Cordner is up for their role as 7ven, best friend to lead performer Bilal Baig’s character Sabi, on “Sort Of.” Both characters are non-binary.
The actor is nominated alongside Amanda Brugel for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Getenesh Berhe for “Cinema of Sleep,” Kelly McCormack for “Sugar Daddy,” and Tamara Podemski for “Coroner.”
In a statement, ACTRA said the category changes were made in consultation with the chapter’s queer committee, outACTRAto.
“We tried to create an award where (non-binary people) could feel safe,” added David Gale, president of ACTRA Toronto, in an interview.
“And if they’re not out, or if they’re playing a character that might be gender non-binary or a female character, they can have a place to put themselves. We’re just trying to make it … as opportune as possible for everyone.”
Having a category dedicated to “the best performer” would have made more sense, Corder suggested.
“It’s still male versus female, it’s still conforming,” they added. “I guess it’s a step in the direction, but I don’t know if we’re there yet.”
Cordner remained optimistic: “I know everyone is trying, it’s progress, and (that) happens slowly.”
Gale says ACTRA’s committee is keen to see “how these categories will be accepted and understood,” suggesting that someday non-binary performers could have a category of their own.
For now, in addition to the gender non-conforming or female category, there is the newly named “outstanding performance – gender non-conforming or male” category.
Its nominees include Colm Feore for “Sugar Daddy,” Dayo Ade for “Cinema of Sleep,” Emeka Agada for “Nurses,” Vlad Alexis for “Lune” and Thomas Antony Olajide for “Learn to Swim.”
Meanwhile, the nominees for “outstanding performance – gender non-conforming or female voice” include Angela Asher, for “Silver Cord Trailer,” Tina Jung for “Riders Republic,” Kimberly-Sue Murray for “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” Lisa Norton for “Glowbies” and Ana Sani for “Ollie’s Pack.”
In the “outstanding performance – gender non-conforming or male voice,” the nominees are Joshua Graham for “Go, Dog. Go,” Deven Mack for “Dragalia Lost,” Jon McLaren for “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” Anand Rajaram for “Go, Dog. Go,” and Rob Tinkler for “Around the World in 80 Days.”
The ACTRA Awards will be broadcast on ACTRA Toronto’s YouTube channel on March 6.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2022.